From Olympia to your classroom

On 10 May, 2012 the Olympic flame will be started in the temple of Hera in Olympia, Greece by concentrating the sun’s rays with a lens and creating enough heat to start a fire. In Greek mythology, fire was given to humans by the gods. The sun is regarded as a god, so even today the Olympic flame is given to humans by the gods. The Olympic flame will travel to Britain in a gold painted British Airways aeroplane. During this journey, the flame will travel in a special safety lantern, similar to the Davy Safety Lamps originally used in mines. This requires permission from the Civil Aviation Authority because normally you cannot carry a flame on a plane. 

The Olympic flame will be carried around Britain in 8000 torches by 8000 torch bearers and will arrive in the Olympic stadium during the opening ceremony to light the cauldron with the Olympic fire which will burn for the 16 days of the Olympic Games.

For each Olympic Games, a new torch design is commissioned:

  • Design to represent the  8000 torch bearers
  • Easy to light
  • Stylish, striking visual impact 
  • Robust luminous flame, burns well in different weather conditions 
  • Non-flammable torch material
  • Heat is conducted away; no danger of burns 
  • Light and easy to carry, many torch bearers are under 16 
  • Heat is conducted away; no danger of burns 
  • Design to symbolise  the number three 
  • Torch should have a golden colour 
  • Enough fuel to burn for 10 minutes 
  • Fuel container and burner  enclosed in torch structure